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Thomas rises to the fore with the game on the line

Sunday, 01.25.2009 / 11:36 PM / 2009 NHL All-Star Game

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

MONTREAL -- A tie game entering the third period. Overtime. Having to kill a 4-on-3 power play. And then, a shootout.

This was way more than Tim Thomas bargained for.

"So much for the just relaxing and enjoying myself," the Boston Bruins goaltender said.

At least Thomas could relax when it was over. For the second-straight year, he was the winning goalie in the NHL All-Star Game, only this time around Thomas had to work a little harder to pick up the "W."

He stopped 16 of 19 shots to help the East force overtime, where he was perfect against three shots, including two that came when Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek was in the penalty box after he was whistled for hooking, the game's lone infraction.

Thomas, who has a 71.8-percent success rate in shootouts for his career, then had to face Shane Doan and Rick Nash.

Doan won the Gatorade Elimination Shootout during Saturday night's 2009 Honda/NHL All-Star SuperSkills Competition and Nash is a known dangler who, as Thomas said, "made me look silly in Atlanta" at last year's All-Star Game.

No worries. Thomas was perfect in the shootout, too.

"When we got up 6-2 in the second I'm like, 'OK, good, I have a little padding to work with,' " Thomas said. "Then when it was 8-8 (after the second), I was like, 'Oh no, this is going to turn into a nail-biter like last year.'"

Thomas allowed four goals on 18 shots in last year's game, but picked up the win when Savard scored the game-winner in the final minute.
 
"This took last year to a new level," Thomas added. "Overtime. A shootout. A penalty in overtime. I mean, come on. I was surprised by myself."

Like last year, Thomas was picked as the East's third-period goalie. His teammates believe he asks for it because he's got a little showman in him.

"I knew he'd set it up to get that third period again," Bruins center Marc Savard said.

"He's the big finisher," Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara added. "The closer."

The sellout crowd of Montreal fans, who were chanting "Go Habs Go" earlier in the night, started chanting "Defense, defense" as the game got tighter and the play chippier.

Somehow, Thomas, a mortal enemy in this building, became a fan favorite Sunday night.

"Going through, shaking hands with Alexei (Kovalev), I said this is probably the last time Montreal will ever be cheering for me," Thomas said.

"He was a teammate tonight," Komisarek said. "Tomorrow he's the enemy."

The third period didn't start so well for Thomas, who allowed goals to Doan and Jonathan Toews within the first 2:32.

"You get scored on two goals in the first three minutes, your competitive juices start flowing," Thomas said. "You don't want to embarrass yourself."

He didn't.

Thomas was then perfect until Patrick Kane beat him on a breakaway with 4:41 to play. It was the go-ahead goal for the West, but Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's goal 62 seconds later forced overtime.

Thomas was spectacular in the extra session. His highlight was a show-stopping save on Jarome Iginla, who received a brilliant pass from Joe Thornton near the left post. Thomas came across with his glove up high to make the save.

"Joe Thornton was there in the slot and in a half a second I was thinking he was going to pass it or go high glove, so I was getting my glove up just in case he shot high glove and he happened to do the pass part," Thomas said. "It was just reaction."

"So much for the just relaxing and enjoying myself."
-- Tim Thomas

Shortly after, Komisarek was called for hooking Ryan Getzlaf, who could have easily been given a penalty shot on the play because Komisarek definitely was behind the Ducks sniper as he came down on a breakaway.

Komisarek, still stunned he got called for a penalty, admitted there was one on the play. Thomas said he didn't see it because he was watching the puck.

"In a way I was happy he didn't order a penalty shot, but in another way I was like, 'Oh no, it's 4-on-3 with the best players in the world for two minutes,' " Thomas said. "Either way, it doesn't look good."

Thomas made it look good. And his performance in the shootout was the capper.

"I hope the fans enjoyed it," Thomas said. "I know All-Star Games sometimes can be a little bit boring and not a lot of defense, but when it's this tight and then into overtime and a shootout … it sounded like the fans were getting into it. I just hope it was a good show for them."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com